Vol. 4 Num 213 Wed. December 31, 2003  

Easily done in the end

Pakistan humiliated New Zealand by taking advantage of a break in the rain to polish off the second Test with ease Tuesday, cracking the final 28 runs inside four overs on the fifth and final day at the Basin Reserve.

After two rain delays and the prospect of more disruptions, Yousuf Youhana and Inzamamul Haq were in a hurry to finish as they caned the New Zealand attack to clinch a seven-wicket win and claim the two-Test series 1-0.

Pakistan's two key batsmen deservedly led the way to the target of 274 with Youhana typifying their dominance as he nonchalantly smacked pace bowler Ian Butler to the boundary for four to bring up the winning runs and finish unbeaten on 88 with captain Inzamam on 72.

The brief spell of fine weather which allowed the victory meant Inzamam could breathe easier after an extraordinary decision at the end of the fourth day when, with only a handful of runs needed, he deciding against claiming the option of an extra 30 minutes play.

However, his plan to put New Zealand to the sword on Tuesday morning appeared shaky in the morning rain and Inzamam joked he was "not going to breakfast because of the nerves".

Play was initially delayed for half an hour and just as the players took the field a fresh shower sent them back to the pavilion for another 15 minutes.

Fearful of further rain, Youhana and Inzamam took just 22 balls to get the necessary 28 runs and inflict New Zealand's first series loss at home in four years.

The impact of rain aside, the result was never in doubt after the Black Caps began their second innings with a healthy 170-run advantage only to see the initiative ripped away in a devastating spell of swing bowling by Shoaib Akhtar on Monday.

They lost their last seven wickets for just eight runs and Akhtar finished with figures of six for 30 and a match performance of 11 for 78.

"It was one of my great spells, I'm really thankful to my team who backed me up all the way," said Akhtar who was deservedly awarded the man-of-the-match award.

A beaming Inzamam said Akhtar was "the difference between both teams".

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming was left to ponder what might have been had his side been able to play the flurry of in-swinging yorkers fired down at around 150 kilometres an hour by Akhtar.

"It was a very bad session which cost us the Test match," lamented Fleming.

"We got tight, we saw how well he was bowling and didn't respond accordingly."

The shock of the batting destruction appeared to affect New Zealand in the field as wayward bowling and fielding lapses assisted the Pakistan cause.

New Zealand quick bowler Ian Butler who took six for 20 in the first innings could only manage one for 100 at more than five an over in the second.

The loss halted a nine-Test unbeaten streak stretching back 18 months for New Zealand.

That defeat was also at the hands of Pakistan and again it was Akhtar, the Rawalpindi Express, who did the damage with a haul of six for 11 to go with a triple century by Inzamam and New Zealand lost by an innings and 324 runs.

The win propels Pakistan past New Zealand to third in the world Test rankings, while New Zealand slip from third to fifth behind England.

Pakistan next play a warmup one-day match against Wellington here on Thursday before the first of five one-day matches against New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday.